PRUDY IN THE PINES.
Scanned by Deidre Johnson for her
19th-Century Girls' Series website;
please do not use on other sites without permission
'"No, my dears," said grandma. "I
couldn't consent to let you go strawberrying 'up by the Pines' as you call it.
It is Mr. Judkins's mowing-field."
"But, grandma," said Grace, "Johnny Gordon went there yesterday, and
there wasn't any fuss about it."
"Then you may be sure Mr. Judkins
did not know it," said grandma. "If he
should catch any children in his field,
he would be sure to give them a severe
"Besides," chimed in aunt Madge,
"Prudy isn't fit to walk so far—she
isn't very well."
"No, she is quite out of sorts," said
grandma. "So if you must go somewhere, you may take your little baskets
and go out in the meadow on the other
side of the cornfield. Only take good
care of Prudy; now remember."
"Grandma always says that over,"
said Susy, as the three children were on
their way to the meadow; "and aunt
Madge always says it too—'take care
of Prudy! ' As if she were a little baby."
"That is all because she cries so much,
I presume," said Grace, looking at poor
Prudy rather sternly. "I did hope,
Susy, that when Horace went down to
the 'crick' fishing, you and I might go
off by ourselves, and have a nice time
for once. But here is 'little Pitcher'
right at our heels. We never can have
any peace. Little Miss Somebody thinks
she must follow, of course."
"Yes, that's the way it is," said Susy.
"Some folks are always round, you
"Now, Susy," said Prudy, forcing
back her tears as well as she could, "I
guess you don't love your little sister,
or you wouldn't talk that way to me."
They gathered strawberries for a
while in silence, Prudy picking more
leaves than berries, and sometimes, in
her haste to keep up with the others,
pulling up grass by the roots.
"Well, I don't think much of this,"
said Grace; "there ain't more than ten
strawberries in this meadow, and those
ain't bigger than peas."
"0, I know it," said Susy, in the tone
of one who has made up her mind for
the worst. "I suppose we've got to
stay here, though. We could go up in
the Pines now if it wasn't for Prudy,
and they are real thick up there."
"Yes," said Grace, "but grandma
knew we couldn't without she would be
sure to follow. Do you think Mr. Judkins would be likely to scold, Susy?"
"No, indeed," said Susy, eating a dry
strawberry. "He keeps sheep, and goes
round talking to himself. I ain't a bit
afraid of him. What could we little girls
do to his grass, I'd like to know? It
isn't as if we were great, rude boys, is
"No," said Grace, thoughtfully. "Now
if we could only get rid of Prudy——"
Little Prudy pushed back her "shaker," and looked up, showing a pair of
flushed cheeks damp with tears.
"I don't think you are very polite to
me," said the child. "Bime-by I shall go
to heaven, and I shan't never come back
any more, and then I guess you'll cry."
"What shall we do?" said Grace,
looking at Susy; "we mustn't take her,
and we can't go without her."
"Well, I'm goin' right straight home,
right off—that's what I'm goin' to do'
said Prudy, "and when I say my
prayers, I shall just tell God how
naughty you be!"
Prudy turned short about, and the
girls went toward the Pines, feeling far
from happy, for a "still, small voice"
told them they were doing wrong.
They had got about half way up the
hill, when, looking back, there was
Prudy, puffing and running for dear life.
"I thought you had gone home," said
Susy, quite vexed.
"Well, I didn't," said Prudy, who
had got her smiles all back again; "I
couldn't get home—'cause—I got my
feet 'most damp and some wet. I won't
be no trouble, Susy."
So the girls made the best of it, and
helped little "Mother Bunch" up the
long, steep hill. Prudy had one hearty
cry before the long walk was over. "Her
nose fell on a rock," she said; but as it
was only grazed a little, she soon forgot about it.
"This is something worth while,
now," said Grace, after they had at last
reached the field, and were seated in the
tall grass. "The strawberries are as
thick as spatter."
"Yes," said Susy, "and grandma and
aunt Madge will be so glad to see our
baskets full they'll certainly be glad we
didn't stay in the meadow. Big as your
thumb, ain't they?"
Yon see the girls were trying to stifle
that still, small voice, and they tried to
believe they were having a good time.
Grace and Susy had got their baskets
nearly half full, and Prudy had covered
the bottom of hers with leaves, stems,
and a few berries, when a man's voice
was heard muttering, not far off.
"0 Grace," whispered Susy, "that's
He carried a whetstone, on which he
was sharpening his jackknife.
"Ah," said he, talking to himself, and
not appearing to notice the girls, "I
never would have thought that these
little children—ah, would have come into
my field—ah, and trampled down my
grass! I shall hate—ah, to cut off their
little ears—ah, and see the blood running down!"
I suppose it was not two minutes before the children had left that field, pulling the screaming Prudy through the
bars as roughly as if she had been a
sack of wool instead of flesh and blood,
—their hair flying in the wind, and their
poor little hearts pounding against their
sides like trip-hammers. If the field had
been on fire they could not have run
faster, dragging helpless Prudy, who
screamed all the way at the very top of
Susy and Prudy had thrown away
their pretty little baskets. Grace had
pushed hers up her arm, and her sleeve
was soaking in the red juice of the
bruised strawberries, while little streams
of juice were trickling down her nice,
buff-colored dress, ruining it entirely.
"Yon hadn't ought to have took me
up there," sobbed Prudy, as soon as she
could find her voice; and these were the
first words spoken.
"0, hush, hush right up!" cried Susy,
in terror. "He's after us, to take us
The family were really frightened
when the panting children rushed into
the house in such a plight.
"It was a crazy drunk man," cried
Prudy, "and he had a axe——"
"No," said Grace, "it was that
wicked Mr. Judkins, and it was his jack-
" And he snips of your ears and nose, ' '
broke in Prudy, "and blood comes a-runnin' down, and he kills you dead,
and then he puts you in jail, and then he
chased us—don't you hear him coming"
"What does all this mean?" cried
grandma and aunt Madge in one breath.
"Have you been in that mowing-field,
Grace and Susy hung their heads.
"Yes, they did," said Prudy, "and I
wasn't well and they shouldn't have
gone and took me up there, and 'twas
''cause they were naughty."
'What shall I do with children that
disobey me in this manner?" said grandma, much displeased.
"Worst of all," said aunt Madge,
pulling off Prudy's shoes, "this child
got her feet wet and is sure to be sick."
Back to chapters 3-4
Back to main page